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Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Chicago, Illinois
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Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Using this forum as a springboard and the expertise of Gemma Dry at Discover Namibia Safaris, our May 2013 self drive safari across Namibia was a smashing success!

It has taken almost 8 months to get through the 20,000+ pictures taken on the trip, but we finally have them up and ready for viewing. You can check them out at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsall/sets

You can select from the full Namibia gallery or two smaller galleries with just the birds or just the mammals we saw. Feel free to check out the galleries from some of our other trips as well.

Since we got back to the US right at the start of summer, doing a proper trip report/reviews of accommodations fell to the wayside and at this point seems a little fruitless. Plus all of the places we stayed were wonderful and would have gotten five stars from us. We had almost 'zero' complaints the entire time we were there.

But just for those who want to know the route we took, where we stayed and the length of the trip, here it is in a nutshell.

Day 1: Arrive Windhoek via JBurg, overnight at Rivendell Guest House

Day 2: Drive to Namib Desert, overnight at Sossus Dune Lodge

Day 3: Full day exploring dunes, overnight at Sossus Dune Lodge

Day 4: Full day exploring dunes, overnight at Sossus Dunne Lodge

Day 5: Drive to Swakopmund, overnight Cornerstone Guest House

Day 6: Morning seal kayaking with Eco Marine Kayak Tours (a must do!), overnight Cornerstone

Day 7: Drive to Cape Cross seal colony, then on to Damaraland, overnight Aabadi Mountain Camp

Day 8: Tour Twyfelfontein and surrounding area, overnight Aabadi Mountain Camp

Day 9: Swing by the petrified forest, on to Grootberg Plateau, overnight Grootberg Lodge

Day 10: Rhino tracker, overnight Grootberg Lodge

Day 11: Drive to Western Etosha, overnight Dolomite Camp

Day 12: Game drives in Western Etosha, overnight Dolomite Camp

Day 13: Game drive to Okaukuejo, overnight Okaukuejo Rest Camp

Day 14: Game drive Southern Etosha, overnight Okaukuejo Rest Camp

Day 15: Game drive out of park, head to Waterberg Plateau, overnight Frans Indongo Lodge

Day 16: Drive to Windhoek, catch flight home

Feel free to contact us with any questions/comments about our trip.

Happy Travels!

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Fantastic pics. Will spent more time on them.

Just wonder about the followings, hope to draw on your experience a bit

1) How are credit cards ( Visa / Master ) being accepted?

2) How convertible are the money to/from Rand, are there any exchange controls, can we convert unsed money back into foreign currency?

3) How is access to internet? Availability of WiFi, or mobile 3G?

4) Which carrier would be recommended for mobile tel as well as data 3G?

5) How available are ATMs to draw cash from foreign accounts ?

cheers

Isle of Man, United...
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2. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Great pictures Boystown. Long overdue but worth waiting for. I could work out your route, more or less from the pictures. Nice to have it confirmed.

Slovenia
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3. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Really great photos, Rob! Might be long overdue for others but just in time for my upcoming trip, same time similar itinerary.

Regarding 20.000+ photos what was your backup strategy? And did you ever feel a need to have a long zoom lens like 70-200 beside 300+TC?

Edited: 29 January 2014, 13:45
Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

I am the paranoid photographer and backup all my cards every night. I carry a small lightweight NetBook on each trip and don't even really use it for anything else except to transfer all memory cards to 1 master external hard drive. I then if time allows each night, run a duplicate copy of that drive. The duplicate doesn't happen every night, but at least several times during the trip and generally travels in a different bag/location than the master.

I shot on 3 bodies/lenses the whole trip. Changing lenses anywhere in the Desert is highly recommended against due to the dust. The only time I swapped one was at Okaukuejo in our room, I wiped every thing down with a damp washcloth first to get any loose particle off around the lens base, then made a quick swap as I wanted my 300 on the 5DM3 for the better low light at the overnight waterhole shooting.

My normal body/lens pairing:

Canon 5DMarkIII - Canon 24-105 IS (full frame for most of the landscape shots)

Canon 60D - Canon 70-200 IS 2.8 (crop sensor allowing for effective 112-320)

Canon 7D - Canon 300mm IS 2.8 w/ 1.4TC (crop sensor for effective 672mm)

The EXIF Data is available on my Flickr Account for all my photos so you should be able to see which camera/lens anything was actually shot on. Obviously for the birding shots, virtually all on the 300mm. Aside from birding, it was kind of a mix between the 24-105 and the 70-200. I love my 70-200 and it used to be my Go To lens before purchasing the 300, so I still got a lot of use on this trip and much of the wildlife is fairly close at watering holes etc, but its nice to have a bit more reach than the 24-105 and the 70-200 provides a great middle ground. Not sure what you have available or were considering, but I'm happy to to offer my suggestion on gear if you let me know what you were thinking of taking or have available.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

@ozwanderer11 --

1) How are credit cards ( Visa / Master ) being accepted?

-- We didn't really pay with cards as we had prepaid most everything (car hire, hotels, meals etc). We paid cash for most of our gas fill-ups as well, so really didn't have too much action on credit. I can look back to our statement tonight to verify, but it was quite minimal as we prepaid and did cash for most things.

2) How convertible are the money to/from Rand, are there any exchange controls, can we convert unsed money back into foreign currency?

-- We withdrew money in Namibia so always had their currency, but did have a few leftover Rand from our SA layover and it was readily accepted where we used it. The ATM card we have is (unfortunately) issued by MasterCard and finding ATM's that took MasterCard was a bit trickier. Our travel mate has a Visa issued ATM card and his was more widely accepted.

3) How is access to internet? Availability of WiFi, or mobile 3G?

-- We used our 3G plan for internet most places, but did have WiFi at Cornerstone Guest House in Swakopmund (I don't believe we did anywhere else).

4) Which carrier would be recommended for mobile tel as well as data 3G?

-- We purchased a card fro MTC right in the airport in Windhoek before we exited the building. They have a stand there near the exit after you collect your bags where you can purchase SIM or a variety of options. We bought a card preloaded with data for our iPhone. We used it somewhat sparingly as we mostly wanted it for the data/mapping function of the birding app we use. But we did use it for other data as well, MTC is the best option for the most coverage and there was coverage the majority of our trip.

5) How available are ATMs to draw cash from foreign accounts ?

-- We took out Cash from the ATM in Windhoek, Swakopmund and then again in the last major town before we entered Etosha from the west (where we also filled gas before entering).

Leicester, United...
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6. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

You are a star and especially for making your EXIF available on flickr. Not many people do that.

I had many discussions with Xelas about our gear and I eventually settled for a 100-300 L and my trusted 15-85 for my 60 D. I was wondering whether 15-85 would be enough on a crop sensor body to capture the wide vista like from Grootberg lodge but after seeing your photos I think it should be fine.

I'm fully aware of the problem of lens swap in desert but sadly I'll have to do it from time to time unless my wife allows me to go for my long coveted 5D MK3.

I have a Sony DSC RX100 which takes great shots but I have read some comments about dust getting easily inside so may not last my Namibia trip !!

I am practically following your footsteps.

I just had a brief look at your snaps and the whole weekend would be devoted to your library.

Once again greatly appreciated.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Happy to help... and I make it available since I know how much I enjoy looking at it on others as well when it is there. (And I also Geo-Tag all photos so it allows for more sharing on location info).

The 15-85 and 100-300 makes for a great lens mix (and certainly much lighter than the load I had to tote around!! I think the 15 on a crop will be fine, (same as the 24 on my 5DM3) you may have seen in the photos there was also a fair amount of panoramics that I stitched. When I shoot panos, I shoot vertically, overlap quite a bit and then have more play in stitching afterwards. I use the stitch in Photoshop (via Lightroom) as it tends to be very accurate and quite, and with the advances in content-aware fill, you can quickly and pretty confidendly fill in the corners and any missing areas to make a complete image without a ton of cropping.

If you are careful with wiping a lens and body down before the swap (and doing so in the car or in a hotel to limit any wind/additional dust) you can certainly do some swaps and if all else fails and you get any dust on your sensor, clean it up in post production and have a sensor cleaned after the trip. I've been lucky to date and have never had any significant dust issues. If you can stick around the dunes as late as possible one of your evenings there and do sunset, its fantastic, and the sky comes alive with color.

We loved our itinerary, allowed for a great mix of seeing most of what Namibia has to offer. We would have loved a few days longer, but we managed to cram in as much as we could given the time off work we could take. You're in for a treat! The Dunes are absolutely amazing and so beautiful!

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8. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Many thanks! So I am back to my original idea of using 3 camera bodies. A Nikonian myself, I can use D60, D90 and D7100. Similar batch of glasses: 16-85, 70-200f4 and 300f4 with 1.4 TC. Now all that amount of camera (and netbook, and phone) requires charging every night. Any recommendations in this area?

Also, filters seems to be of good use. CPL for harsh light and UV for protection, yet what about ND?

You've mentioned a birding app (probably for iPhone). Which one have you used?

Iphone and SIM card: I suppose they will have iPhone 4 type of card readily available?

And, as Supratik, also me I will follow your steps closely (only skipping the sand piles ... this time ;))).

Cheers, Alex

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

Power points! Most Lodges have sockets in rooms. Yo u will need a South African adapter. Old fashioned 3 round pin. can be bought at most Garages/Petrol stations. N$40 or so. Or scrounge one from Reception.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Namibia Trip Photos May '13

@xelas

3 bodies would certainly be ideal since you have access to them already. Glass lineup sounds about perfect. I always travel with a small 6 port power strip on our travels so I can charge the glut of batteries, netbook, phones etc... All of the lodges and spots we stayed had power ports in the room, as mfuwe mentioned, you will need a South African adapter for it. I only had the one which I grabbed at the airport in JoBurg on our stopover relatively cheap.

As for filters, I keep a UV on my lenses all the time (except the 300 as there are no filters for a lens that large). I did have my CPL along, however I never actually used it. Some of my mid day shooting at water holes was certainly in unflattering light, but I never actually put the CPL on. Same goes for ND, I had them along, but never used them as there was really nothing I shot that I wanted the slower exposures.

We used the Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa app. It was a bit pricey, but we loved it. Since we had activated the 3G on our phone, we could use the location based portion of the app to help narrow down the possible birds we were seeing. Aside from the general artist rendering of each bird, there are several photos so you can see what they really look like. Most birds also have recordings of their songs/calls which can be helpful too for some species. By far the best app purchase I have ever made. https:/…

We did have iPhone 4S along for the trip and they had the smaller size SIM they use. I believe at the little shop in the airport they had a variety of sizes of SIM, and it appears from the MTC site, they also carry the iPhone 5 as well, which utilized the smallest micro-SIM. So any phone you would take along, I think they should be able to help with a SIM card.

Let us know if you have any other questions. We are around for another week before we will be out of touch for a month on the Frozen Continent.

Rob & John